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Cairo CosmopolitanPolitics, Culture, and Urban Space in the New Globalized Middle East$
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Diane Singerman and Paul Amar

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9789774162893

Published to Cairo Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5743/cairo/9789774162893.001.0001

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Café Latte and Caesar Salad

Café Latte and Caesar Salad

Cosmopolitan Belonging in Cair's Coffee Shops1

(p.221) 6 Café Latte and Caesar Salad
Cairo Cosmopolitan

Anouk De Koning

American University in Cairo Press

The transnational formula of the coffee shop inserts itself in locally significant and often highly contested domains of leisure and sociability, urban public life, and public space. In Cairo, familiarity with the significant outside (barra) and the adoption of explicitly cosmopolitan styles has long been a marker of elite status. Mixed-gender socializing in leisure venues is one of the hallmarks of such distinctive cosmopolitan lifestyles. However, it is also a source of anxiety and contestation. This chapter explores the way in which these upscale coffee shops create spaces of cosmopolitan belonging. These spaces reflect class distinctions in modern Cairo and are illustrative of the way mixed-gender sociability norms, particularly in the upper middle class, begun to change. The signs of a turn to neoliberalism and the global market are inscribed in the landscape of Cairo.

Keywords:   coffee shops, leisure, public space, Cairo, barra, cosmopolitan styles, class distinctions, mixed-gender sociability, neoliberalism, global market

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